Without actually meeting a supporter or donor, the closest you can possibly get to them is through a phone call. By calling them, you’re ensuring a personal touchpoint for communication, which is a great way to engage people in open-ended conversation.
In fact, several studies prove that phone calls are valuable retention tool for nonprofits:
Calling donors to thank them for their gift 24 hours after they’ve donated leads to an 39 percent increase in donations the next time you make a solicitation.
Calling donors to tell them how their contribution has positively impacted your campaigns and report your work without requesting additional money increases the amount they contribute the next time by about 41 percent.
But most small or medium-sized nonprofits still go about calling in an old-fashioned way: manually dialing numbers on their phones and using spreadsheets or actual paper to record responses. This is a hugely inefficient way of reaching out to supporters and an unnecessary waste of time. Cue phone banking through automated dialers, which optimizes the whole journey of using phone calls to connect with donors.
But before we dive into the benefits that an automated dialer software offers, let’s first look at the four types of automated dialers small and medium-sized nonprofits can take advantage of:
What Is an Automated Dialer?
Auto dialers help you bypass monotonous or repetitive tasks such as manually dialing numbers, while widely increasing the speed with which you reach out to your supporters. The data that you record on these conversations, such as donor preferences or supporter levels, is automatically stored in your database. This ensures the next time you call them, you can reference details from your previous conversations to personalize your communication, a crucial element to retaining supporters. There are four automated dialers that nonprofits can use, each with its own characteristics:
Power Dialers help you make calls from a list in a sequential manner. This dialer not only ensures you call everyone on your list but also skips bad or busy numbers. Small and medium nonprofits can benefit from this dialer when they can’t afford to miss anyone on their lists— useful when you want to thank all your donors. This dialer also ensures a volunteer is always on the line when the call is connected so that recipients aren’t left hanging.
This dialer lets you make several calls in a short amount of time. Perhaps you have an important rally which was organized at the last minute—here, you’d want to call as many of your supporters to get them to attend. The Predictive Dialer helps in situations like these where the cost of missing out on a single person in your contact list is less than that of being unable to reach out to as many people as possible. This dialer ensures that your volunteers are on calls at all times while skipping bad numbers, busy signals, and unanswered calls.
There are instances where you need to spend time researching the contact you want to talk to and get a full context of your previous conversation with them before actually making the call. Maybe the person is an important donor with whom you want to make a follow up call. In that case, you’d go for the Preview Dialer, which lets you review conversation history and other important notes while giving you control over whom you specifically wish to contact in your list.
Voice Broadcast Dialer
In some cases, you may be unable to make calls due to lack of staff or time, but you still want to add an element of humanness to the message. The voice broadcast dialer comes into play here. You can record your message and send it to all your nonprofit supporters without having to wait for free phone lines. A word of caution, however: these type of calls are generally looked down upon by recipients and could possibly attract fines due to regulations—you should make sure these calls don’t have a telemarketing ring to them and be aware of the laws surrounding voice broadcast calls.
Advantages of Using an Automated Dialer
More Time Spent on Your Calls Instead of Waiting
When you manually dial a number, you need to wait until a call gets connected, meaning you’d spend a lot of time unnecessarily listening to busy tones, answering machines, or unanswered calls. That’s not the best use of your time when you’re on a deadline, or even when you’re not, for that matter. Automated dialers let you make the best use of your time by removing the repetitive elements of a call.
Improved Data Segmenting
When you call your contacts, whether it’s to thank them for a donation or mobilize them for a rally, you’d definitely want to get additional information about them. Most autodialers come with an interface which lets you tag contacts and include survey questions within the script. You can use these questions to identify donor pain points, supporter levels, and other information which is likely to help your future outreach.
While on the call, you’d then mark the appropriate responses on the form. If you feel a conversation went really well with a donor, you could assign a tag to them that says something like, potential volunteer. Later, you can export all contacts with a specific tag to another list. When you contact these people in the future, you’ll be able to tailor your conversation around their interests.
Additionally, your volunteers can mark notes when they’re on a call and use this information to personalize the next outreach.
Note: Since most dialer software integrates with your CRM (customer relationship management software), you can ensure all your data is updated and securely managed in a single place.
Let’s face it, not every contact you call is going to pick up. But that doesn’t mean you need to skip connecting with them altogether—you can simply drop a voicemail. Whichever dialer you use, you have the ability to record a message beforehand, so that if you hit an answering machine, you can drop your message with a simple click and move on to the next call. Nonprofits use this feature to give their volunteers important instructions for their upcoming campaigns or to thank their loyal supporters for being integral to their organization. In your message, you can also give them your number so that they can contact you once they’re free.
Knowing What to Say
Whether your volunteers are making thank-you calls or trying to obtain valuable feedback from your supporters, they’re bound to need some help when on the call. This is where scripts come in—to reiterate what the objective of the call is and to give guidelines as to what the phone banker should say according in different situations. Whether you’re using the Power, Predictive, or Preview dialer, you have the option to create a call script that will be visible to your volunteers during calls. Although seasoned volunteer phone bankers may not require scripts, new volunteers probably would need them during their first few campaigns.
Understanding Your Campaigns Better
It wouldn’t make much sense if you weren’t able to analyze your calling campaigns to track the return on your efforts. Auto dialer tools let you track important metrics around the calls you make and the volunteers making the calls. The hassle of managing your volunteers is reduced as well by being able to track individual performance.
Easier to Recruit Volunteers
Many small and mid-size organizations find it hard to recruit volunteers. Automated dialers can reduce this frustrating pain point, because volunteers don’t necessarily have to be located in say, your office, to actually make phone calls. It is perfectly feasible for them to make calls right from the comfort of their homes—all they have to do is sign into your current campaign and they can start making phone calls. This means you don’t have to restrict yourself to only recruiting from your neighborhood or community—interested volunteers can join in from any part of the world.
Using Automated Dialers for Outreach Activities
Thanking Your Donors and Supporters
A considerable chunk of your phone calls would be aimed at thanking your benefactors and supporters to nurture your relationship and retain them.
Here, you should first segment your contacts according to different parameters such as supporter levels, gift size, and how long they’ve been associated with your nonprofit. Once you have these lists, you’d call different segments depending on whom you’re looking to nurture. Use the Power Dialer to make your calls, since you don’t really want to miss out on anyone here. Prepare a thank-you script which you can refer to during the call, and mark your survey questions accordingly.
If you’re calling someone really important—say, a donor who made a large contribution—use the Preview Dialer so you can do adequate research before placing the call.
Getting Lapsed Donors Back on Board
Once a donor lapses, getting them back on board is a hard ask. Phone calls are your best bet for convincing them to continue their relationship with you. Use the Power or Preview Dialer to dial these contacts and try to understand why they stopped engaging with you and if there’s anything you can do better. Then try convincing them to return. Worst case, if they don’t want to continue, at least you’ll understand why, which will give you valuable insight to improve your organization.
You have a major rally taking place in a few days. The number of supporters who turn up with largely determine the impact of your rally. In this case, use the Predictive Dialer to quickly reach out to as many contacts as you can and convince them of the positive impact of their attendance towards the cause. If you’re truly hard pressed for time, use the Voice Broadcast Dialer to record your message and send it in one click to your contacts.
Note: Once you’ve made the call, you can send a follow-up text or an email reminding contacts of the important details. Some auto dialers let you automatically schedule these texts or emails.
Fundraising via telephone is an effective strategy, since you can talk at length about your cause, what you plan to do with the funds, and their proposed impact. If you’re calling your loyal donors, you’d use the Power Dialer, where you can reference their previous gift to try and convince them to donate once again. You’re likely to get a positive response from them since they’ve donated to you once already.
For people you aren’t sure are open to the idea of donating, use the Predictive Dialer so you don’t waste time talking to someone who definitely isn’t interested in contributing.
Obtaining relevant feedback from the people who know your nonprofit well is crucial in strategizing your future campaigns and improving the way your organization is run. This is all the more true if yours is a fledgling organization with less experience in your field. Call your existing supporters and volunteers and have a conversation with them.
Automated dialers will save time, improve efficiency on calls, and help you gather actionable insights that can drastically improve your phone calls. Depending on the purpose of your call, use the appropriate dialer for your outreach.
Shaunak Wanikar is part of the marketing team at CallHub. Along with writing articles on the CallHub blog and partner websites, he also dabbles in social media marketing and creates infographics, product demo videos, and landing pages through WordPress. Shaunak is an engineering graduate with a penchant for movies, football, and books.